The Panthers are one win away from the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final after a convincing 36-20 victory over the Warriors at UOW Jubilee Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers were immediately on the front foot courtesy of a penalty from the kick-off, which laid the platform for the opening points through Tony Satini in the 3rd minute. The centre was much too strong for the defence close to the line to give his side a 4-0 lead.
They extended their lead on the opposite flank four minutes later when Maika Sivo’s fleet-footed effort left the Warriors defence reeling, allowing the Fijian flyer to waltz over to score. Darren Nicholls’ conversion was successful to make the score 10-0.
Ill-discipline from the Panthers allowed the Warriors back in to the contest in the 17th minute when Matthew Allwood ran on to a short-ball from James Bell to cut the deficit to six points.
Multiple penalties in the Warriors’ favour led to their second try in the 25th minute when Sam Cook caught the Panthers right edge napping to score in the corner to bring the score back to 10-8.
The Panthers regrouped to strike back five minutes shy of half-time when some quick hands from Satini put his winger Christian Crichton over in the corner for a 14-8 lead.
Satini capped off a barnstorming opening half when he burst through a gaping hole in the Warriors defence on the half-time siren for his second try. Nicholls slotted the extras for a two-converted try lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 20 – 8 NZ Warriors
The second half started similarly to the first with the Panthers scoring after three minutes thanks to the sheer strength of Jed Cartwright who brushed off three defenders to score in the corner for a 24-8 lead.
The Warriors would hit back instantly to keep the Panthers within touching distance as Pauga sliced through the defence before finding Zac Santo on the inside. Pauga converted from right in front to make it 24-14.
It was nearly a quick-fire double for the Warriors after they won a scrum against the feed and went wide to Bureta Faraimo but for a forward pass denying the winger.
Instead, the Panthers would extend their lead once more in the 56th minute thanks to a fierce left-foot step from Jarome Luai that left the Warriors defence for dead. Nicholls landed the conversion for a 30-14 lead.
Luai was celebrating a double ten minutes from time when he put Satini through a gap and backed his centre up on the inside for the return pass to score next to the uprights. Nicholls’ conversion pushed the score out to 36-14.
A consolation try from Ligi Sao on the final siren added respectability to the scoreboard but the Panthers earned a week’s rest with the clinical victory.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 36 – 20 NZ Warriors